Before moving to California and building Pastreez, a macaron delivery service across the United States, I lived on various French islands. I recently shared why Guadeloupe is a terrific Caribbean destination, and now I’d like to celebrate Martinique, where I had the pleasure of living for three years. Located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies, just north of Saint Lucia, Martinique is a dreamy Caribbean island and French overseas department. Here’s why you should consider Martinique for your next vacation.
La Montagne Pelée
Mount Pelée (or “Montagne Pelée” in French) is an active volcano responsible for the island’s creation. Its most recent eruption was in 1932, and its seismic activity is continuously monitored. You can hike along one of the many trails around the volcano and immerse yourself in the tropical fauna and flora.
There is a volcano museum that you must visit called the Memorial de la catastrophe de 1902. It was in the early 20th century when Montagne Pelée’s most horrific eruption occurred, destroying the city nearby. According to legend, only two people survived, one being a prisoner who was protected in his jail cell.
If you ever been to the Caribbean, you know for a fact that the traditional cuisine is tasty and memorable. One of my favourite dishes when I was there was poulet boucané, chicken smoked with local wood.
And you don’t have to find a Cordon Bleu chef to prepare this specialty. Before going to the beach on a Sunday at noon, my wife and I loved to stop by local farmers who sell pieces of poulet boucané ready to eat. That’s the Caribbean lifestyle!
Later when you return home after your beach outing, swing by local merchants for a goûter (snack) at 4 p.m. One of my favourite treats is called the Tourment d’amour. Originally from les Saintes (a small island near Guadeloupe), the “Love’s Torment” pastry is a small tartlet stuffed with local guava jam inside a pie crust. Needless to say these are the perfect afternoon snacks.
I transposed this love for tropical fruits and flavors to my online bakery Pastreez. Summertime is coming and new macaron flavors such as Mango and Passion Fruit will be available! And if you’re really into it, I created the Macaron of the month club, with new seasonal flavors monthly to your door.
Meals can make or break a trip. You just have to navigate it right! Here are my tips and top picks for first-timers in Martinique. Google Maps may be a solid search tool for many restaurants around the world, but on small islands like Martinique, most restaurants do not have a strong online presence.
The first tip is ask the front desk at your hotel, or even better, the locals at your Airbnb. Ask them what their favorite restaurant is. I personally prefer to “fit in” rather than going to “tourist” places when I travel. That is the best way to truly get into a culture.
My favourite address is Ti Cozy in Sainte-Anne. Not far from the sea, you’ll eat great Caribbean food at a fair price.
Beaches and the Diamond Rock
Caribbean islands are renowned for their breathtaking sandy beaches. And Martinique is no exception. But the ultimate experience is to rent a boat with a local guide. That is the only way to find empty beaches where you can stay all day. When I used to live in Martinique, I was lucky to have a friend with a boat. And every weekend we would browse the entire coast of Martinique, looking for a new beach gem.
Did I mention the Rocher du Diamant or Diamond rock? This is a spectacular rock standing by itself a few miles from the shores of Martinique. Looming 575 feet above the sea, this basalt rock is located south of Grande Anse du Diamant. It is a must see if you ever decide to visit Martinique!
Last but not least, my favorite beach in Martinique is Anses d’Arlet. Beautiful and unique, this sandy beach is hidden in a thick tropical forest, making it less crowded. Here in this town, there’s a long pontoon from where kids will run and jump in the water. To share a little a secret, this pontoon is perfectly aligned with the church where my wife and I got married.
I hope these hints will be helpful as you plan your trip to Martinique. A week should be enough time to explore the island and soak up its culture.
Lead photo credit : Grand-Rivière traditional fishing port in Martinique French West-Indies © JLXP at Wikimedia Commons
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